So I get to New York City with plenty of time to spare. Whilst posting up and preparing to kill a couple hours waiting for my tour group to assemble, I happen to run into Richard. Turns out, he’s part of the crew heading over on the trip, and we strike up a conversation on just about everything. After a while, I get a little thirsty and want to explore the immediate surroundings.
Now, it’s rumored that Brooklyn Brewery has a pub in JFK, but I don’t remember which gate it’s in or where exactly it’s located. Luckily, there was a little cafe near the Lufthansa ticket counter that looked like it had some decent stuff in bottles. Sam Adams Boston Lager, Brooklyn Lager, not bad selections for a little airport eatery I guess, but not what I was in the mood for at the moment. Then I spot some Paulaner Hefeweizen, an appropriate selection seeing as how we had a stop off in Munich before we arrived in Vienna.
The flight going over worked out quite well. We left in the evening from New York and were able to arrive in Munich around 8 a.m. Lufthansa kept the decent food and drink coming, all gratis. Naturally, I had a few Warsteiner on such a long flight. Knowing what the options could’ve been on other airlines, I thanked my lucky stars and enjoyed the beer. After several attempts to get some solid sleep failed, I made the best of it and soldiered through a movie I’d already seen. Bavaria was not far off at this point, and that adrenaline rush of excitement kicked in. Who needs sleep, right?
Normally, I more than likely would not have a beer in hand before noon, but this is Munich. So granted, maybe I still stood out drinking a Schneider Weisse at 8:30 in the morning, but on my watch, it was still 2:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, and this was my way of “acclimating myself” to my new environment. I sat with some newly acquired friends at a charming little cafe in the middle of the airport, sipping away and happy to be off the airplane with some room to stretch.
After some more waiting, then hopping another flight to Vienna, we get to our hotel and set our stuff down. Then we get right into a meeting. This was unfortunately not personal beer trip, or even a beer tour, but rather a delegation on Diplomacy and International Relations. Immediately following this, we set off for Augustiner Keller, which sounded delightful since I automatically associate ‘keller’ with the word ‘bier.’
But, the reality of traveling with a large group to go out for a meal sunk in when we arrived, and while I’d have loved to stay there all night, sampling their wares, it was only appropriate to have one beer with dinner and head back to the hotel. I had what I believe was called Bitzinger Helles, but for some reason that doesn’t sound right. I was informed by our less-than-stellar waiter that this was all they had, only to find out later from other group members that their waiter supplied them with an array of beer options. Fortunately, the helles was tasty, but unfortunately I couldn’t stay to discover the other beers. I kept having to remind myself what the trip was really all about, and suppressing the urge to go on my own two-week beer spree.
That night, back at the hotel, a few of us couldn’t go right to bed. We realized we were in friggin’ Vienna, and while sleep sounded like a wise decision, we had to wind down for the evening. Still, being too tired to really explore the city, we hit the pub right next door to the hotel. It was rather quaint, with small booths and wooden accents, almost like a rural establishment set in the city, but still with a touch of class. Roy and Frank, two fellow travelers, became instant friends as we settled into this small, empty, Austrian bar serving nothing on draft except Zwettler pils.
One turned into a couple, and Frank spoke German well enough to strike up a conversation with the barkeep, a stern-looking man who wasn’t quite sure what to make of us at first. A couple of jokes, and the old fellow cracked a smile, perhaps changing his mind from the initial impression of us Americans, one of Scottish extraction. He laughed back, “I like American accents, they’re easy to understand. Australians and Scots all sound the same to me: difficult to understand!”
As a few people filed in and out, we knew that he’d soon be closing up for the night, and saw that he was meticulously marking every bottle of liquid in the place, then marking it on grid paper in a huge notebook. That made my night, and we promised to bring more people back the next evening to give him some business.
Well, that and to get our hands on some more of that well-balanced, easy-drinking Zwettler.
Another downside to this trip: my camera is too old, and they don’t make the Memory Stick I had been desperately searching for before I left Richmond. Therefore, most of the photos I took were of monuments, rather than beer halls. Still, there are more stories to come regarding beer-related adventures, just not as rooted in beer exploration as I’d like. Interestingly enough, most of these good times with good beer occurred by happenstance.